It took three weeks and 52 matches for Argentina the
South American giants to emerge the FIFA U-20 champions.
The South American continent rose above all others to
have a representative claim the championship and another
win the third place match.
The FIFA U-20 soccer tournament consisted of 24 teams
from all 5 continents. Each continent went through its’
qualifiers, to produce the teams that represented them.
Here is a breakdown of the teams and how the continents
did in this tournament.
Europe led all continents with six entries. The six were
Spain, Austria, Poland, Scotland, Czech Republic
and Portugal. Spain seemed to be the flagship for the
Europeans early on. Their play in the round robin was
stellar with 2 wins and a draw and then they defeated
Brazil in the round of 16 and it appeared that they were
well on their way to challenging for the championship.
The Czechs’ got the better of them in the quarter-finals
and Spanish hopes were dashed once again. The Czech
Republic’s steady play proved to be the class of Europe
because they made it all the way to the finals. The
Europeans continued to show the world that they are a
force to be reckoned with because Austria represented
them for the third place game as well.
The Asian continent consisted of Jordan, Korea DPR,
Korea Republic and Japan. Japan was the only survivor
from this group to move on to the round of 16. The Czech
Republic knocked out Japan in the round of 16 but there
are promising signs from this continent. It might sound
strange but Asia gave a good account of themselves
especially the Korean Republic. The Republic played some
of the best football of the tournament and was very
unlucky not to move on. This continent is perhaps the
fastest rising in their technical, physical and mental
aspect to the beautiful game and to continue to
under-estimate them will be a huge mistake.
The Oceanic region had only one entry in the
tournament. This lone entry was New Zealand. This team
wasn’t able to qualify for the round of 16 but gained
valuable experience for the future and will be better
prepared next time around.
Northern and Central America were represented by
Mexico, USA, Costa Rica, Panama and Canada. Mexico and
USA continued to be the cream of the crop for this
region. Their play while inconsistent at times still
produced some encouraging signs for the future. Mexico
led by Giovanni Dos Santos narrowly lost out to
Argentina in the quarter-finals and the USA led by
Freddy Adu were able to raise their game to defeat
Brazil in the round robin stage. These two results
combined with the fact that they both made it to the
quarter-finals proved that football in this sector is
steadily improving. You can rest assure that these two
teams will continue to represent the region well and
will eventually be joined by others.
Congo, Gambia, Zambia and Nigeria were the
representatives for the African continent. They all
made it to the round of 16 which is an indication of the
strength of this continent. The level of soccer in
Africa keeps growing each and every time they appear on
the world scene. The teams from this region continue to
tease us every tournament they participate in. They
always seem to be on the verge of a major breakthrough
but continuously fall short. The teams possess almost
all of the ingredients to be champions but are missing a
pinch of something to actually complete the job. It is
only a matter of time before a representative from the
African continent hold a major tournament trophy above
their heads. Their level of football is too good to be
The South American teams comprising of Argentina, Chile,
Brazil and Uruguay produced some breathtaking football.
The surprising team from this conference was Brazil
because they never found their feet. Brazil surprisingly
made it to the round of 16 and was eliminated by Spain
at that stage, which was their third defeat in four
games, and that is very rear for any Brazilian team. The
rest of the South Americans however had good balance
offensively and defensively. The standard of football
that Argentina and Chile produced, in the games leading
to their encounter in the semi-finals, were of the
highest value. Argentina got the better of Chile and
went on to defeat the Czech Republic in the finals.
Chile however went on to defeat Austria and claim the
third place prize.
Congratulations to Argentina the pre tournament
favourites for defeating their European counterparts the
Czech Republic by a 2-1 margin to retain their world
championship. In doing so it gave Argentina their sixth
world FIFA U-20 championship and it made their captain
Sergio Aguero only the second player after Joao Pinto to
win two FIFA U-20 championships.
Congratulations to all the teams that participated in
this tournament and helped towards making it the huge
success it was. Over 1.5 million tickets were sold and
the spectators were treated to football of the highest
standards at times. The talents of some of these
youngsters will soon be displayed on their respective
senior national teams and the future looks very bright
indeed. We were all privileged to witness the next
generations of stars and I hope that the level of the
game keeps improving in leaps and bounds in each and